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Chelsea win as Pulisic and Kante dazzle; Juventus draw as McKennie comes off injured

The UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday saw Chelsea defeat Lille 2-0 and Juventus draw Villarreal 1-1 in first-leg action.

The Blues got goals from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic — on a fantastic run from N’Golo Kante — to inch closer to a spot in the quarterfinals, while nobody could earn the advantage in Spain with Dani Parejo canceling out Dusan Vlahovic’s first-minute opener.

Chelsea were efficient, finishing two of their four shots on goal with Thiago Silva bossing at the back. The result means a one-goal loss in the second leg would still see the reigning European champions go through. As for the other tie, all is still to play for in three week’s time.

While Juventus took the lead and had their moments, they were very quiet in the second half and finished with an xG of only 0.32 and with Weston McKennie limping off with an injury. Villarreal looked like the better side in the second 45 minutes but now face the tough task of having to win in Italy to move on.

The surprising news ahead of kickoff was Romelu Lukaku being relegated to the bench, and Chelsea didn’t miss him.

The Belgian striker didn’t even make a substitute appearance, and that will raise some questions as to whether things have gotten worse between him and Thomas Tuchel, The attacking trio of Pulsic, Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz produced two goals, though an injury to Ziyech, who came off at the hour mark is a concern.

But they did more than enough for Tuchel to want to continue using those speedy, technical players up top instead of a No. 9. We’ll see if injuries will change that, but it was a strong overall showing for the Blues where they did little wrong.

Steve Carr

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